States debate TikTok restrictions amid privacy concerns


Marta Bourget

Multiple phones sit on a table with the Tiktok app pulled up. Tiktok has been a hot debate topic in politics recently

Marta Bourget, Staff Writer

Bans and restrictions on TikTok have been threatened, with little action, since the app gained popularity a few years ago. These threats seemed half-motivated, but in early 2023, they became reality. States such as Montana have already taken actions to limit the use of Tiktok.
TikTok is a video-based social media platform thriving on music and fast paced trends. A majority of teenagers everywhere use this app in some capacity.
“I use Tiktok for like 30 to 40 minutes a day, it’s a nice app to just mindlessly scroll through,” sophomore and TikTok user Zoey Morse said.
But other students may find themselves mindlessly scrolling for hours, which is no surprise since the average screen time for teens has been consistently growing in the past years.
“I think TikTok has provided people with opportunities that they otherwise would not have gotten,” junior Des Blair said.
Tiktok isn’t just all memes and trends, though. A lot of artists of all mediums have gained followings on TikTok. This opens the door for artists, such as dancers, painters, even comedians, allowing them to get recognition on a popular and easy to use platform.
“I think TikTok has provided people with a lot of opportunities that they otherwise would not have had,” Morse said.
But even those who aren’t as active on TikTok have seen its effects.
“I understand that there’s a different space on TikTok for our creatives, who use it as a way to create and generate revenue as a way to increase their followers, and therefore their presence on social media,” assistant principal Adonis Bolden said.
Bigger impacts have been made than just individual artists and businesses. TikTok has been a huge spreader of news, as seen during social movements such as BLM and Stop Asian Hate.
But the commotion with TikTok goes farther than disapproval of a certain app. Children with unrestricted access to the internet is a debate that has gone on since the first forms of social media.
“Many of our students, from freshmen all the way up to seniors, are ill equipped to deal with some of the peer pressures or social ills that take place on social media,” Bolden said.
Many trends have sparked these ill feelings for TikTok, from bashing the reputations of celebrities to ripping sinks out of school bathrooms.
However, Instagram, Snapchat, and even YouTube have adopted features popular on TikTok, so drawing the line of banning TikTok and outright banning all social media is blurry.
Heightened age restrictions are a heavily discussed solution.
But in this age of technology there is always a work-around to bans and rules. Using a VPN or lying about your personal information can ensure that one can evade these restrictions. Even Montana is aware of this, with politicians keeping quiet on their plan to enforce the TikTok ban.
“There are some wonderful positives, but I do think that more education is needed, a greater level of awareness must be created,” Bolden said, “and certainly there’s a social level of responsibility that has to be present.”